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Latymer Upper vs KCS / St Paul's

(60 Posts)
windsandandstars Fri 27-Feb-15 12:57:14

This is my first post on mumsnet; please be gentle!

DS is in his final year of state primary school and is very fortunate to have an offer from Latymer (11+) and a conditional offer from Kings College School (13+). He has an interview with St Paul's (13+) next week. We live in Hammersmith, and therefore Latymer is much more convenient than Kings. The Latymer offer is also for next year, whereas for Kings or St Pauls (if by luck an offer were forthcoming) he would need to attend a prep school for 2 years and take the common entrance exam first. This seems like undue hardship on DS (as is potentially the daily journey to Wimbledon), when he could accept the place at Latymer (which is, after all, a wonderful school). But is it worth it to go to a top school like Kings or potentially St Paul's? Does the fact I'm even asking this question mean I am putting my own interests above his? Any thoughts appreciated!

basildonbond Fri 27-Feb-15 13:14:49

gosh there are a lot of parents considering nightmare commutes for their children today!! I went to one of the Hammersmith schools and one of my friends lived in Wimbledon village. I remember the first time I went to her house after school and wondering if we'd ever get home - it seemed to take an age ... Yes, KCS and St Paul's are more 'prestigious' than Latymer but is that prestige worth that journey every day? IMO no school is worth a difficult journey, passing many brilliant schools on the way. The choice between St Paul's and Latymer would be trickier but is a bird in the hand worth more than 1 in the bush?

MLP Fri 27-Feb-15 13:27:21

I agree with Basildon. I think I would struggle the additonal commute to Wimbledon vs a school in your neighbourhood. Both schools are very good - I don't think you will go wrong with LU and I don't think the differential is sufficent to merit the hassle of the time taken up getting to Wimbledon.

jeanne16 Fri 27-Feb-15 13:36:04

Also it would be quite an upheaval for him to go to e prep school for 2 years. This could be very disruptive and tricky from a friendship point of view. I would take the place at LU.

Gummibaer Fri 27-Feb-15 14:33:23

We are in a very similar position and have just decided to turn down KCS Wimbledon (13+) and the St Paul's Interview in favour of another, closer, independent boys' school where ds got an academic scholarship and can start in September. All are great schools and if your ds is bright and hardworking, he will do well in any of them. Don't forget that the good results of these schools are down mainly due to their pupil selection rather than any special teaching. In other words, a bright child should do equally well academically in either of the schools. Good luck to your ds.

singersgirl Fri 27-Feb-15 16:11:29

I think changing to prep school and then doing the CE exam would be unnecessarily stressful for your son, so I'd go with the 11+ place. They're all good schools and I'm sure he'll thrive at Latymer. And since you live in Hammersmith it seems a slam dunk decision all round.

I'm curious though as to why you didn't apply for an 11+ place at SPS (via Colet Court) and KCS (via the junior school) as well if your son is at state primary, rather than going the 13+ route and having to factor in another prep school for 2 years.

windsandandstars Fri 27-Feb-15 17:59:06

Many thanks for all the advice; sounds like a consensus! We are definitely leaning towards Latymer.

Singersgirl, we did apply for 11+ entry to Colet Court; DS got an interview but not an offer (only 10 places each for 11+ and 11+ deferred). Likewise, Kings had only 15 places for 11+ and four times as many places for 13+. Kings wouldn't let us apply for both, so we chose the best odds; in retrospect maybe not the best decision.

Swimmingwithsharks Fri 27-Feb-15 18:02:08

Of course Latymer and St Pauls will be an easy commute for your son to go to school. But there are school coaches to KCS, check the routes, there is one that leaves from Hammersmith. There are quite a few boys from the Hammersmith area who go to Kings. Does he have a preference?
I imagine you will probably go with Latymer as it sounds the most straight forward option?

singersgirl Sat 28-Feb-15 09:50:16

Oh that makes sense. Well, good luck with your choice. Latymer is a great school and we know lots of people who are very happy there.

Bonsoir Sat 28-Feb-15 12:07:11

I've just read the thread and it sounds like a no brainer.

Logistics matter. Living locally to school is a massive plus.

windsandandstars Sun 01-Mar-15 21:53:40

Latymer it is! It's where DS wants to go.

Many thanks, everyone, for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

amoorthy12 Mon 22-Feb-16 21:49:05

Hi - I have a similar question. We are currently renting so we don't have the location problem. My DS got the conditional offer from KCS for 13+ and offer for 11+ from Latymer. He is interviewing at St pauls next week. We are new to UK and are not sure which one to choose. He is at a prep school that goes to 13 and his sister goes there. Also, is one school better than the other when it comes to preparing for the US Ivy League schools?

ErbalEssence Tue 23-Feb-16 10:57:40

I think the question you need to answer is which school do you and HE prefer? Do you have a preference for single sex vs coed. Are you interested in him having the option of the IB in the 6th form or are you happy with A levels. Which school suits his personality better? I think KCS is probably the "more academic" of the schools and I would go for that one personally. Well done to your DS. Good problem to have!

Eastpoint Tue 23-Feb-16 11:26:29

Although all the schools send children to Ivies it is impossible to tell how many of those are legacies unless you know the families concerned. Some of the children attending will have very strong familial ties which should not be discounted. SPS has lots of boys applying each year and a good programme from what I understand.

SPINNINGMOM Tue 23-Feb-16 12:42:15

As a parent at KCS it is worth noting a few things......

KCS is in transition. They are building some amazing new facilities. They are increasing their focus on Music and Drama. They have introduced A levels. They are getting better and better results every year. BUT......

The school is a very different place than it was when I decided to send my son there many years ago. They are very focused on the exam results and have started to "weed out" at all levels (even after AS!) to make sure they have the results they want. Pastoral care has decreased significantly in favour of results.

The school has just started a "lower" school which seems to make no sense as they have a junior school. KCJS parents are not happy about it.

They are struggling to juggle the IB/A level balance. There has been quite a bit of teacher turnover.

The headmaster is on sabbatical. I am not sure if this is as odd as I think it is.

All said....its a good school. Some good things happening but just different than what it was and not really sure where it is going.

SPINNINGMOM Tue 23-Feb-16 12:44:52

St Pauls will send many more to the US. Not sure if that makes it harder or easier to get in from KCS. There is not really American University support at KCS but they recommend a consultant who can help.

Needmoresleep Tue 23-Feb-16 13:25:38

LU seem to be putting increasing support behind US applications. I suspect though that parents still use external consultants on top. The fact it is a bust school.with a lot of non academic stuff going on should help.

That said there will always be a few boys from various schools who transfer to Westminster at sixth form for their well oiled US application process.

cakeisalaystheanswer Fri 26-Feb-16 09:52:38

As another KCS parent I would second everything SPINNINGMOM has said.

I would also add that not all sport is taken seriously at KCS. Football in particular is under funded, and has very little access to the schools sports facilities despite being hugely popular. There is a shortage of specialist coaches and non-PE staff are drafted in from other departments to coach. KCS also doesn't enter the ISFA tournaments etc which is pretty standard at most schools. The focus is still on rugby despite a huge decline in popularity.

jeanne16 Fri 26-Feb-16 10:21:12

A friend who has a son at KCS has also commented that he has dropped out of all sport, having got fed up with not being selected for teams. Also the feel of the school is changing because of the huge numbers of extremely wealthy Russian and other foreign families. These are needed to pay the increasingly eye watering fees charged to pay for all these incredible new facilities, most of which your own DS won't get to use.

SPINNINGMOM Fri 26-Feb-16 11:00:16

Sport and lack of PE staff is a huge issue. It starts in the jr school where clubs Are only for top 1/3 in last few years. This continues into the senior school. Many go outside the school to do their sport or to get coaching if they are not among the best. Seems they should support more options.

cakeisalaystheanswer Fri 26-Feb-16 11:12:16

Spinning, I'm not surprised. For football Y11/Y12/Y13, that's about 450 boys,are mixed and the only extra training sessions available are to those in the top 2 teams, 22 boys, who should predominantly be Y13 pupils. It is ridiculous to have spent so much money on facilities (not money well spent as the pitches have been unplayable most of this year) when the school obviously doesn't have the funds to finance a full PE department, and boys don't have the opportunity to use them.

RascarCapac Fri 26-Feb-16 11:18:51

I had heard the same although to be fair my info is old and also came from someone I met at a drinks party and so have no way of assessing whether he was a crazer or not (a good criteria to try and apply before taking note of what is being said!). But he was very cheesed off with the sports provision (this was football), and said that effectively his son got excited once a year in September, went for trials, got told he wasn't good enough for the squad and that was it for another year. I got the impression the child in question was pretty reasonable, not a two left feet type at all, but there was no provision unless you were already really quite good. but as I say, old info.

Knowing what I know now about schools, alongside journey time, sport for all and whether there was a weeding out process are two things I would cast my beady eye over at the selection stage. Re the latter, even if you do not think it will ever apply to you (and honestly, be a bit careful with that assumption), it's quite disruptive to you if it's your DCs besties that it is happening to, plus it also changes the feel of the school. Interestingly I think the opposite is good because schools that do not weed out effectively have to super-teach their bottom level to ensure their stats look good. I have a DC in the bottom maths set of an academic school and I have absolutely no complaints about the level of attention she is receiving there, she is literally being attention-bombed into GCSE - it's a great place to be (un-MN sentiment!)

MissCellaneous Fri 26-Feb-16 19:11:04

Hi KCS parents. My DS has an offer in the lower school. Why might KJCS parents be disgruntled about the lower school? I didn't think it would change their DS's experience in the junior school? Has the pastoral care really fallen fowl at the expense of getting results? That is sad to hear as its one of our main reasons for veering towards this school.

Longdaze Fri 26-Feb-16 20:13:16

As a KCS parent, I really don't recognise the school being discussed above. Pastoral care is exceptionally strong, and sport is inclusive and plentiful (both in the Junior and Senior School).
The head is not yet on sabbatical - he will be away next term and my son's year is not full of wealthy Russians!
Also, the school has just appointed a new Head of North American Applications to advise pupils who are considering applying to university in the U.S. or Canada.

kcsmum Fri 26-Feb-16 21:44:18

As another KCS parent, like Longdaze I don't really recognise this description of KCS either - like so much in life, the picture isn't really black and white.

In addition to academics there were other issues at play regarding the boys weeded out after AS recently. Actually the school seems to me be quite good at supporting those who struggle a bit academically and still lets them take exams (and get e.g. a D...) which rumours suggest some other schools don't allow. Overall I've found pastoral care to be very good.

That said, there was a serious issue with the last academic year's upper sixth which, with the benefit of hindsight, the school handled badly - this caused some staff turnover including the loss of some fantastic individuals which was a great shame. Staff turnover happens however... And things have subsequently settled down again.

The introduction of the new lower school is primarily in order to make the school more accessible to boys from state primaries. Who can argue with that! The lower school will run in parallel with the junior school at least until all current junior school boys have moved through the system and got what they signed up for - beyond that who knows, the school is saying no plans to merge but it's widely accepted they're probably being a bit disingenuous about that...

Very very few extremely wealthy Russians etc. Yes there's the odd one or two, and of course you notice them!, but statistically not very significant.

Sport is a bit of a weakness unfortunately. But it's an academic school and that's where the emphasis lies.

The headmaster isn't on sabbatical at the moment, but next term - he will return at the end of term and will be available over the summer to deal with the fall out from public exams. Not much goes on in the summer term anyway due to all the public exams, and the principal deputy is absolutely outstanding (in some ways she's probably better), so I don't think this is a big deal at all - but fair enough if others do.

Overall it's a forward-looking school which is willing to change and move forward with the times - although I can understand the point of view of wanting the school to stay the same as when you joined, I really like the progressive attitude and feel that most changes are a move in the right direction. E.g. I was delighted that they brought back A levels - very few boys are genuine all-rounders at this age, and many prefer to specialise e.g. in sciences or languages or humanities in a way which A levels allow and IB doesn't. And universities don't like IB for e.g. medicine. The fact that the majority now do A levels suggests that their reintroduction was definitely a good move.

Interestingly, from speaking to other parents, it does seem that boys' - and therefore parents' - experience of the school does vary to quite an extreme degree, depending on the nature of the child. (Perhaps this is the same at all schools..?) Boys who are confident, bright and musical or sporty or whatever, seem to be served extremely well - anecdotally however, less confident, middle-set boys might feel a bit invisible, and there are stories of some very sensitive, quiet boys having periods of being utterly miserable.

There are also stories of boys who were top at their prep or primary getting very depressed to find they are below average in a very bright cohort. Obviously this is not the school's fault, but something to bear in mind - personally I think KCS is an outstanding school, best suited to genuinely bright and confident boys (who may or may not be musical / dramatic / chessy / sporty / whatever, that doesn't matter so much), personally I wouldn't choose it for a hard-working plodder or a very very gentle, sensitive type. Just my opinion!

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